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Introducing “You Are Here”

Thanks to high-speed satellite Internet service and the ubiquity of mobile devices, journalism audiences can now be reached anywhere, any time. The effect can be transporting – and also disorienting. When the Web is everywhere, what happens to the experience of being in a particular time and place?

“You Are Here” is an experiment in using digital technologies to represent and engage truly local communities, by offering content and interaction that is only available in a particular place. Using small, inexpensive, open-source wireless routers to deliver compelling, location-specific content, “You Are Here” seeks to facilitate conversations that are informed by the character of the physical spaces where they are installed, and which, in turn, shape the lives of the people who live, work, and play there.

For the past several months, the You Are Here team has been working on bringing together the many different pieces required to make this happen: we have been building new technologies that make it simple for anyone to setup and run a web server on inexpensive hardware setup that can fit inside a breadbox.

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The You Are Here web server, which can run a standalone wifi network anywhere you have an outlet.

We have also been creating audio stories that share a sampling of the issues and voices present in each of our two sites: Tompkins Square Park and the High Line. And we’ve been reaching out to local businesses and non-profits to find partners who can host our devices and help us connect with the local community that we hope will contribute to and grow the stories we’ve seeded.

In the coming weeks, we’re excited to details about where you can find You Are Here and what we’ve learned from making site-specific audio, tiny web servers and new connections. We’ll also share news about launch events and community contributions, and invite you to share your ideas about how the You Are Here technology could be used by other communities in other ways.

In the meantime, feel free to take a look at our (Internet-accessible) website at youarehere.network, and when the time comes we hope you’ll join the conversation!

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